Useful "outside" tools



Direct Folders sounds a lot like Folder Express, which I use all the time and get frustrated when I go to someone else’s computer that doesn’t have it. But I can’t find a valid home page for it any more, although there are shareware type sites will let you download it.

Other tools I use a lot are:
WinDirStat - for checking where all my hard drive space is going.

WinMerge - for doing text file comparisons. Useful for seeing what I changed in a script that I haven’t worked on in a while.

InfoRapid Search & Replace - for doing just what it says.


WinDirStat has got to be the best program to see where all your clutter is hiding. I can’t believe I’m forgetting all these great tools. WinMerge has always worked like a charm, but I’ve had some luck using Beyond Compare as well.


SysInternals - A great set of tools for peeking into, modifying and commanding windows. I used to use PsTools a lot to handle remote processes, and Process Explorer is like Task Manager for awesome people. :D:

It used to be a separate set of guys working independently, then Microsoft snapped them up. The tools haven’t changed however and they’re still free.


Anyone use MemoClip (from the same company that makes Direct Folder)? It looks like it could be really useful for script writing (unlimited, long-term clipboard storage, shortcuts for typing long bits of commonly used code).


I’ll second WinDirStat and ProcessExplorer - awesome little apps!

Instead of DirectFolders, I’ve been using File Box Extender/ - which is great. I like to always have my file browsers sorted by type, in details mode, and this one does that (as well as the usual fav folders & recently used) - plus it can auto resize the file dialogs bigger if you like.

Ultimate Defrag is a sweet tool. It’s free and it can do a stupid amount of awesomeness to your drives. Move all the frequently used files to the outer areas of the HD? Move the rarely used stuff in? Put .exe and .dll on the outer areas? Whatever - it seems to do it all. Pretty cool!

Textpad is a pretty good text editor. I’ve used it forever, I’m sure there’s better out there but I’m sticking with it. Easy to create custom syntax highlighting and fast file search/replace are god sends.

Folder Share is really handy too if you like to work from home at times. It’s free, from Microsoft (which some might see as good, some bad :slight_smile: ) and works super easily. I create a folder on my drive at home, mark it as sharing. Go to work, set it up and boom there it is too. Drop any files in there and they sync up in both locations. It uses P2P to sync up. I think it can do group libraries/sharing too, but didn’t bother to look into that.


yeah I tried fillebox extender but it caused me some wierd glitches - can’t remember the details. Before that I used a plugin called file-ex which was quite cool, but I digress - I suddenly thought there were a couple more which I am so used to I forgot to mention -

  • notepad++ - for text editing/script writing. I don’t know if it does anything special for a text editor, but it’s free which is good for me. :slight_smile:

  • jkdefrag - defrgger, free and simple. just the way I like it. :slight_smile:

Some great little tips here, I shall be making use of a few of the mentioned items, so thanks guys. :smiley:


Thanks for bringing up Folder Share wharghoul, I look forward to trying that sucker out.

I definitely don’t mind notepad++ but, while it isn’t free, have always preferred UltraEdit as my main text editor app. That might just be because I’m so comfortable with using it and haven’t given other text apps more time of day.

Headus UVLayout - Awesome unwrapping tool that Gwot over at Polycount brought to my attention.

Mental Mill - Just another shader gen program but seemed pretty easy to work with.

Stupid apps of the day:

AbiWord - completely free and much lighter than Open Office
CuteFTP - definitely my favorite FTP client even though it’s not free. I’ve tried Filezilla a bunch of times but have had issues on every machine I’ve used it on (random disconnects while uploading builds, etc)


Wallasaurus makes a good call on Notepad++, I use that at home since it’s free. At work I’ve got Textpad, but I still use NP++ for nearly everything because I prefer its syntax highlighting (easier to manage). However Textpad’s “find in files” is bloody good.

Regarding Filebox Extender - I used that for a while, but now and then it used to really weird out Photoshop. I think it was because of the little icons it attached onto the corners of windows for the favourites drop-downs. It would attach those onto PS document windows (completely unnecessary) and sometimes those document windows would entirely disappear until I alt-tabbed out of PS and back in again.
It never did that before I installed Filebox Extender, and the problem immediately went away when I uninstalled it, so for that reason I’m sticking with DirectFolders since it doesn’t interfere with existing windows.

I use FileZilla at home for FTP, free and fast/easy. I know we used it at work for uploading builds too, and as far as I know it never had any issues.

On the art side, Meshlab is a great open-source tool for optimising multi-million-poly ZBrush or Mudbox meshes.

I think it’s awesome that people have been able to create free or open-source software which is almost as powerful and full-featured as expensive consumer apps. Definitely helping to level the playing field, plus open-source stuff is handy if you need to adjust a tool to fit your pipeline better.


Filebox Extender lets you set program exceptions. But I still like DirectFolders better because of the double-click-anywhere, rather than heading up to the menu bar. Also works in some file dialogs that Filebox doesn’t recognize enough to add its icons to.


Filezilla is the best FTP software on the market. Simply, because it is free and like Paul pointed out, simple and fast.


Oh yeah Mesh Lab - I recently grabbed it and played around, it seems really powerful! Great for importing a super dense model & reducing it - with barely any quality loss. I want to look into it further, see if maybe it has scripting or command line abilities, which would rock.


I just wanted to put in my vote for winMerge also,

Launchy is really nice alsoas some one said, but I wanted to mention that works as a quick calculator and has some other nice plugins for it.

a new favorite of mine for people needing to make quick training vids or when trying to submit a bug (great for animators having problems with rigs, remote users etc… is jing I have been useing it more and more and you can share info quickly with it.



seconding the recommendation for notepad++ – it is a wonderful text editor with built-in syntax highlighting support for many languages, including maxscript and matlab scripts! There is an HLSL syntax highlighting addon available too (HLSL addon here, instructions for user-defined language support here).


I use ObjectDock at work, not super useful but handy and slick (:



WhoLockMe -wonderful little program, goes into your right click menu. When used on a locked file (you know those ones where windows can’t delete because somethings using it). It will show you what process are using that file and allow you to kill them. Saved my ass several times.


Ooo good one surrient. I’ve had to straight up reboot my computer several times to successfully remove a file with all the ghost processes that can sometimes run in the background (even if the program isn’t using it anymore nor is it running it still pulls that crap).


In the past I used a little app called Unlocker which, from the sounds of it, does pretty much the same thing. I switched to XP64 about a year ago and haven’t been able to use it since (…as with many other cool little tools I’ve learned about from this thread… nuts!). Great little app though!


Faststone Capture is a screen capture utility that has some handy features. You can select only a specific section of the screen to capture, choose from objects (recognizes dialogs and whatnot in Max), does automatic screen scrolling if you’re trying to capture something larger than your screen and don’t want to have to patch it back together after. Its not something you use every day, but is definitely nice to have when you find a use for it, basically eliminates the need to take screen caps into Photoshop after.

It is now at version 5.9 and costs $19.95 at the official website here, but it was free up until 5.3 and if you don’t mind having an older version you can still get it here.


Capture looks great. I’ll give it a try. Thanks.

On a similar note I’d like to point out the Jing Project :

I use it all the time on both my mac and my pc. It is a really convenient image/video capture freeware tool that has many features, but most notable it will compress and upload your image/video to a pre-defined location. Great when you are helping someone online and a video or image would be the best way to go but it is usually too much work. Well worth a try!


WhoLockMe sounds right handy! I’m going to try it today. :slight_smile: